The Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) has described the late renowned musician Jonathan “Johnny” Clegg who died this as a fearless activist against the apartheid system whose music appealed across all races.
Clegg lost his four year battle to pancreatic cancer on Tuesday after being diagnosed in 2015. He was buried in a private ceremony attended by close family and friends the following day.
In a statement released by spokesperson Maseeta Makgabane on Wednesday, PACOFS said it had learnt with great sadness of the death of the internationally acclaimed musician-cum-songwriter who worked with the institution on numerous projects.
“The 66-year-old has undoubtedly contributed immensely to the world of arts and culture – mainly through his entertaining and morale boosting music that has a message that cuts across all races,” read part of the statement.
“Worth mentioning is that he was not just a musician but was respected for his generosity and activism against apartheid government,” the statement added.
PACOFS said Clegg’s ability to sing in both English and Zulu distinguished him as a musician and won many hearts, not just in South Africa, but across the world.
“He took part in the transformation of South Africa through his music, that is why he was known by his fans as “The White Zulu” because of his ability to sing his music in both English and Zulu languages and his music was able to unite and bring people together across all races,” said the organisation.
Going down memory lane, PACOFS spoke of his close relationship with the late former president Nelson Mandela who enjoyed his performances and music saying the music had an impact on him.
The statement said Mandela described the music as combining “strains of hope and despair.”
Clegg’s music was popular in those dark days as it was said to boost the morale of the anti-apartheid activists.
“He will be remembered by his song released in 1987, Asimbonanga (We have not seen Mandela),” noted the statement.
PACOFS said Clegg will be fondly remembered for his selfless efforts and contributions to the arts industry.
“We as PACOFS… found great pleasure in working with him in the past through festivals and musical productions. We send out our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” it added.